Amazon Express Update: Milestones Passed And Ahead

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It has been a few weeks since we last checked in on West Hansen and his paddling team as they make their way down the Amazon River. As you probably know, they’re attempting to complete a source-to-sea kayaking expedition in record time, calling the excursion The Amazon Express. When I last wrote about their progress, the team had cleared the dangerous red zone and were leaving the last of the whitewater behind. Since then, they’ve moved onto the Amazon proper and have cleared a few more hurdles on their journey.

One of the bigger milestones for the expedition thus far was achieved this past weekend when West and company arrived in Iquitos, by far the largest city that they’ll encounter along the Peruvian Amazon. Iquitos is an isolated, yet bustling, city that once held the distinction of being the largest in the world without access by road. When I was there back in 2008, the only way in or out was by boat or plane. I’m told that there is now a single road that leads into town and helps connect the city with other nearby villages.

By reaching Iquitos, the Amazon Express crew has now passed more than 1800 miles (2897 km) on their journey, but more importantly the city gave them the opportunity to spend a few days resting up and gathering supplies for the next leg of their journey. That will be a 300 mile (483 km) jaunt to the border of Brazil, where they’ll find their next town of any size, Santa Rosa. They should arrive there by this weekend. Iquitos also meant that there was still roughly 2500 miles (4023 km) to go before the expedition ends in the Atlantic.

West and the rest of the paddlers are making good time these days. Most of their updates indicate that they are covering between 50-60 miles (80-95 km) per day. That’s a solid pace on a river that doesn’t always offer much in the way of current to help push you along. Still, considering how massive and lengthy the Amazon truly is, they still have many days and weeks to go until they reach the end.

Kraig Becker